Michael Webster is Professor of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of the Houston Youth Symphony, winner of first or second place in the American Prize and the Foundation for Music Education’s Mark of Excellence over 20 times since 2008. Described by the Boston Globe as “a virtuoso of burgeoning prominence,” he has collaborated with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Tokyo, Cleveland, Muir, Ying, Dover, Chester, and Artaria String Quartets and internationally-known artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, and many others. He has been associated with some of North America’s finest festivals, including Marlboro, Santa Fe, Chamber Music West and Northwest, Norfolk, Angel Fire, Steamboat Springs, Sitka, Park City, Skaneateles, Stratford (Ontario), Maui, La Musica di Asola, Victoria (BC), and Domaine Forget (Quebec). As a soloist, he has appeared with many orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra with Aaron Copland and the Boston Pops with John Williams, and was for many years Aaron Copland’s favorite interpreter of his Clarinet Concerto.
Webster’s recital career began at Town Hall in 1968 with his eminent father, Beveridge Webster, as pianist. That same year he won Young Concert Artists’ International Competition and became Principal Clarinetist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for twenty years. He has performed in all of New York City’s major halls, across the United States, and in Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He has appeared as a guest artist at the 92nd Street “Y”, and in Houston with Da Camera, Musiqa, and Context. High Fidelity/Musical America placed his CRI recording of American clarinet music on its Best Recordings list and Artists International selected him for its Distinguished Artist Award.
Webster has served as Acting Principal Clarinetist of the San Francisco Symphony, Music Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, Founder and Music Director of Chamber Music Ann Arbor, and Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Eastman School of Music, from which he earned three degrees. In 1988 he became a member of the conducting faculty at the New England Conservatory and taught clarinet both there and at Boston University. He has also taught at the San Francisco Conservatory, the Yale Summer School at Norfolk, Aria International Academy, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Johannesen International School of the Arts. He was Music Director of the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin, and guest conducted several Boston-area orchestras until moving to Ann Arbor, where he was Adjunct Professor of Conducting at the University of Michigan and Director of the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 1997.
In demand as a clinician, Webster has presented master classes at such institutions as the Manhattan School of Music, Florida State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Louisiana State University, the Puerto Rico Conservatory (San Juan), the University of Victoria (Wellington, New Zealand), Senzoku Gakuen (Tokyo, Japan), the University of Washington, the UMKC Conservatory of Music (Kansas City), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and at the Interlochen Arts Academy. He has also served as a coach for the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (in Brazil, Venezuela, Belgium, Mexico, Colombia, China, and the US), the National Youth Orchestra Festival (Sarasota) and at Banff for the International Festival of Youth Orchestras. He was the founding director of Clarinetopia, a residential seminar at Stony Brook and Michigan State Universities.
In 1988, he and his wife Leone Buyse founded the Webster Trio (flute, clarinet, and piano), represented on Crystal Records by Tour de France with Katherine Collier and World Wide Webster and American Webster with Robert Moeling. With Chizuko Sawa, the Webster Trio Japan has released Sonata Cho-Cho San on the Nami label and From Vienna to Budapest for Camerata. All of these discs feature Webster’s trio arrangements which, along with his original compositions, are published by Theodore Presser, International Music Company, Schott, and G. Schirmer. Webster also appears on the Albany, Arabesque, Beauport, Bridge, Centaur, and CRI labels. A dedicated teacher, since 1998 he has written a regular column entitled “Teaching Clarinet” for The Clarinet magazine, the official journal of the International Clarinet Association. He has appeared frequently at ICA’s annual convention, ClarinetFest. Webster is a Buffet artist/clinician, playing Buffet clarinets exclusively.